Life is a cycle of seasons, and the transitions between seasons can be worrisome. Often, there may be minor disruptions in life, which are soon resolved. But when they persist, there is a crisis. Midlife is one such period which has been recognized as a period of potential crisis.
Midlife Sets in Somewhere Between The Late 30s and 40s
It is distinct from the premenopausal years that occur later. Up until the 1900s, only about 10% of women reached middle age. Their roles were well defined within the limited sphere of home and family, as wife, mother, domestic drudge. Having a midlife crisis was unheard of.
However, the 20th century has seen an incredible lengthening of one’s lifespan, with women living well into their 7th or 8th decade. So, around 40 years or thereabouts, when the business of childbearing is over, and children begin to assert their independence, there looms before women a stretch of life that appears to be like a vacuum. Husbands may also be passing through their own midlife crisis, and are like irritable hedgehogs. Or in a reversal of roles, they become overly dependent on their wives. Women begin to feel trapped.
A woman may feel that life is passing her by. “Who am I?”, she wonders. “Does my life count for anything?” An inexplicable loneliness overcomes her as though she has no real self-identity. Conscious of her gradually fading beauty and energy, she sinks into depression. This feeling of worthlessness is compounded if there is marital dissatisfaction.